Closing the Gender Gap in Innovation and Creativity Through Intellectual Property System
posted 2 years ago
Women and men should have equal conditions for recognizing their full potential to contribute to economic, social and cultural development all around the world. Gender equality is, therefore, the equal treasuring by society of the similarities and the differences of men and women, and the roles they play in society.
Intellectual Property system objective is to generate incentives for creativity and innovation not only for the benefit of creators, but also for public benefit.
However global evidences and assessment by different UN agencies such as WIPO, academia and research centers such as Institute for Women’s Policy Research has proved that IP system has failed to engage or recognize all creators from all genders.
Yet the benefits of intellectual property are not always equally shared across globe and are unfortunately less accessible to women.
Contribution and involvement of women in IP system is basically a two facet matter, from policy side, not enough focus and support has been devoted to promoting the role and involvement of women in innovation and creativity and from another side and specially in developing and least developed countries, women are not aware of their own rights and how they can benefit from IP system to improve their business competitiveness, promote their products and services and contribute into the regional economic development.
The purpose of IP system is to encourage and develop innovation and creativity, which in turn helps improve the quality of our lives. When most people think of IP, inventions in various fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics come to mind, but IP goes far beyond patented inventions and includes other types of exclusive rights such as trademarks, copyrights, geographical indications, industrial designs, so-called traditional knowledge, to mention only a few.
Across all sectors, communities and societies, women’s leadership has a positive impact. However, in spite of years of emphasis on the positive impact of involvement of women in society as a whole , women still have remained underrepresented in public life and economy activities. Indigenous women are even more side-lined in this regard, facing additional challenges in improving their economic situation.
Still considerable work remains to be done to fully understand the root causes and scope of gender disparities in IP system all around the world especially in developing and least developed countries and also to promote gender equality and diversity in the innovative and creative sectors.
Various solutions may help to bridge the gender gap as a whole and also in IP system such as awareness raising, education, online campaigns and networking among women, policy making and allocating funding for business development, innovation enhancement as well as improving entrepreneurship opportunities for all with a gender lens.
In 2020, I was invited bY European Union Intellectual Property Office, EUIPO,ARISE+IPR team to conduct a study on The Role and Involvement of Women in intellectual property system and provide a comparative analysis of female and male dominated sectors in using IP system in enhancing their business competitiveness in the market.
This is the very first study on its own kind and quite new to intellectual property and policy world and provides an analysis of the role and involvement of women in community-based
industries in the ASEAN region that are also substantive producers of intellectual property
rights (IPRs), and how they may serve as a successful tool to promote rural and national
economic development within ASEAN Member States.
The study tries to identify the challenges faced by women in using intellectual property system and the opportunity that such system can provide to women entrepreneurs and indigenous women in distant rural and mostly deprived areas to improve their financial status.
The results from the research study showed that women in ASEAN often find themselves in a
disadvantageous position, with gender parity in economic opportunity and participation being
noted as one of the areas in the region which faces the largest gender disparity. The statistics
provided by ASEAN journals support this, highlighting the great difficulties faced by women in
ASEAN in various development indicators, also noting that women based in rural areas lagged
behind the most in development indicators.
The study therefore took the position that targeted policies aimed at those with the most
potential to improve the economic situation for would be an effective way to bring about positive impact, economic prosperity and to close the economic gender gap in ASEAN with the greatest haste.
Community-based industries were concluded to be a vital place to begin to bring economic
change within ASEAN for often-marginalized groups of women. The lack of economic
participation and opportunity for women in ASEAN is seen as a big hindrance to gender parity
in the region and rural and national economic development for member states. Utilization of
IPR in community-based industries is seen as a way to guarantee economic reward for these
marginalized groups and the recommendations to ensure this were as follows:
• To collect, analyse and distribute more detailed data on women’s participation in the IP
system across ASEAN and relevant industries;
• To increase awareness-raising on women and IPR among stakeholders in the national
and regional context to ensure the awareness raising on the necessity of female
• To promote gender balance in decision-making bodies on intellectual property,
government and business stakeholders to ensure that policies are created to promote
a workplace and industries where women can thrive;
• To increase the availability of mentors at a regional and national level to benefit
• To make available and establish funds that promote IPR protection in community-based
industries to ensure timely protection of IP rights
The study also analysed the usage and advantage of trademark,Geographical Indications and design in female dominated sectors, most specifically in agriculture and textile sector in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand and several other ASEAN countries.
The study presented to EU Ambassador to ASEAN and other delegates from World Intellectual Property Organization,WIPO and European Union in November 2021 and also presented to ASEAN Secretariat to identify the next steps required to involve more women businesses use intellectual property system and improve their economic situation in local,regional and international scale.